Is Japan changing me? Yes. As I reflect on the different places I have lived, I see how each place has tattooed itself in my life. As a child in South Carolina, I learned I didn’t want to live in South Carolina. I also realized there was a little trailer park girl in me who enjoyed walking around eating elephant ears and turkey legs at a county fair. In Colorado, I purchased my first pair of jeans and learned how important it is to spend time with girlfriends. In Atlanta, I realized once you go black you never go back. Speaking of course about all the exercise clothing I was buying to attend all the crazy exercise classes with my crazy exercise-obsessed girlfriends. As I mature, I have become more aware of the influences in my life (so I like to think) and I have to admit that Japan is having its impact on me.
Because the standards for food quality are so high, often times later in the day, you will find “sale” bins for food that the grocers would like to sell before they have to throw it away. I will admit, there was a time, when if I needed something for dinner that night and I found it on sale, I wouldn’t think twice and I would buy it. Now, it’s different. My mind hesitates and I find myself turning away from the sale bin and just buying full price items. Part of this is due to the resignation many of us feel living in Japan post 3/11. It is the ultimate exercise in mass denial. No one knows what the outcomes of the radioactive fallout are, but the sun still shines, the service is still awesome, and we have to go on with our lives right? As many of my friends have admitted their own “no buy” zones ( this may mean nothing from Fukushima, or nothing from Tohoku, etc…) for me, it means I don’t buy from certain areas of Japan, I try to buy imported produce and meat, and I don’t buy sale.
I’ve mentioned before how people dress up here just to go to the drug stores or definitely the malls or restaurants. The Japanese take care to coordinate and create an outfit. They consider themselves people of elevated tastes. They are willing to go the distance to get “the best soba”, “the best snacks”, “the best umbrella store.” Stores who earn this reputation need not publicize because the power of word-of-mouth is so strong. A few weeks ago I was shopping with Angela and Nghi and we came across the “daintiest” shop.
It only sold handkerchiefs and instantly my mind dreamt of “Lady Kathryn”. Woman with a handkerchief. Someone who might accidentally drop her handkerchief only to be picked up by a VERY handsome meat-eating man…. Anyhow, this memory never faded and after the new year, I went back to this store and purchased some handkerchiefs for myself, and since Cliff and Chase were with me, they had to get some too. I don’t know what their handkerchief fantasies involved, but I didn’t care to ask either. When I get back to the States in the summer friends, don’t be surprised when I dab that little bit of sweat on my forehead with my new hanky. Please feel free to turn it into a trend.
In my future book, “Tiger Mom Raises Your Child”, there will be a chapter called: “The What-if Game”. When Chase was little, this was part of his survival training. I created a game called the “What-if Game”. It went a little like this:
- Me: What if a well-dressed man approaches you and says he has a bunch of your favorite candy in the back seat of his BMW? What would you do?
- Chase: uhhhh. Say no thank you and walk away?
- Me: Excellent. (but I would say it like evil scientist)
At this point I would just shake my head and look incredulous and tell Chase stuff like, “how you get so smart?” “Where’d you get those instincts from?” and I would answer for him, “Your momma that’s who!”
So, in light of my new-found road to “lady-ness” I resurrected the What-if Game:
- Me: Chase, let’s say you’re walking with a woman or girl and she accidentally let’s a huge fart slip out and the people walking in front of you turn around. What do you do?
- Chase: Slowly start walking to the side.
- Me: Wrong answer son
- Chase: So what am I supposed to do?
- Me: You say, “Excuse ME” with a straight face.
- Chase: Are you telling me I have to take the blame for everyone who farts around me?!?
- Me: NO!… Just the ladies.
- Chase: (pause) ok.
- Me: Excellent….
Until next time…